New Jersey has
scheduled a transportation summit for Wednesday, Jan. 8, during which
the governor and numerous experts will develop ideas to improve the
state's roads and other transit systems, The Newark Star-Ledger reported Jan. 6.
One of the key
issues that has yet to be resolved - and which is unlikely to be discussed
at the summit - is a possible increase in the state's fuel taxes to
pay for highway work, the newspaper said.
The state has
already seen a number of increases in travel costs recently. The New
Jersey Turnpike Authority raised tolls Jan. 1, increasing cash tolls
17 percent and E-ZPass tolls 10 percent at rush hour and 5 percent
during other times. The higher tolls - which media reports said would
raise about $41 million - are part of a two-stage toll hike the turnpike
authority said would help pay for a $917 million capital improvement
Tolls for trucks and cars crossing bridges operated by the Delaware
River Joint Toll Bridge Commission jumped Nov. 30, in some cases about
300 percent. Truckers' tolls have increased to $2.25 per axle. A second
round of planned hikes will cost truckers $3.25 per axle starting
in January 2004. The commission, which operates 20 bridges between
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said the new rates would help fund a
10-year, $526 million maintenance plan.
At the summit,
Gov. James E. McGreevey is expected to demand that construction designed
to alleviate congestion and accidents gets done more quickly. Roughly
$5 billion worth of transportation projects have been proposed in
the state, The Star-Ledger reported.
officials said McGreevey would create a special transportation commission
and issue an executive order calling for enhanced highway safety,
better road signs and other improvements.